Some day the world will give the Armistice its place among the miracles
IT WAS the top story room of the burgomaster’s home that the Bull had picked. Hours back, I had guessed him sick. Now that he'd expressed the intention of spending the night in a regular bed with white linen and whatnot I realized that my guessing, for once, hadn't overshot the mark. Moreover, the big fellow’s declaration had followed close on the heels of a deafening crash in the back-garden which had obliterated alt traces of a stone outbuilding and had shattered several of che burgomaster’s ground-floor win-
dows. s > chat fragments of glass, ricocheting off the walls an t ceding, still tinkled in our ears like far-off little bells.
\ .« roof for me," sniffed the Q-Emma, one ear cocked toward the garden. "Heinie may put the next crump right through this dump. Me for the cellar.1
"Me. too, thanks,” chirped the pay-
The Bull's tips curled back. "Suit your sweet selves,” he gibed. "Full house down there already,” indicating the cellar entrance. "Civvies and cats and dogs and God-knows-what. Nice, smelly joint. Hope you’ll enjoy it. As I sai t before I'm stepping high. What’s a decent bed for if not to sleep on? Me
Swinging ’round, tie took a couple of steps, lurched, and nearly went down. 1 sprang to his side; was offering myarm as support, when he turned on me angrily.
"Lay off the funny stuff, Dave,” he grated. "Your bidding’s getting to be too much of a good thing. Keep your dirty feet out of my way.”
"1 didn't trip you, oid man," I said piacatingiy. Then with a covert wink at the Q-Emma, added: "It was your heel. Your heel turned on that chunk of plaster—there."
There was no piaster in the big fellow’s path. No chunk of anything. No obstruction whatever. And yet he looked dully down at the floor and
whined: “So it did. Sorry, Dave. My mistake, chin-chin, gang.” And off he reeled—climbing 'laboriously toward
the next floor and the little bed of his avowed fancy.
“Pride,” Í observed, when the staircase had quit creaking beneath his weight and his footfalls had died out,
"can be devilish exacting when it wants to. Reg’iar Shylock.”
“Pride?” the paymaster interrogated.
“Yes. pride," I answered. “You don’t suppose for a minute that the Bull dragged himself up those stairs for a piare to sleep—do you? Oh, no! He hasn’t any more love for shellfire than you or I. Less, right now, I’d say. That bed business was a bluff. Pride drove him up top— pride that would have him conceal from us if possible— just how sick he is—how near to a cropper he’s come. Sick? He's as wobbly on his pins as a baby. You heard him accuse me of tripping him—didn’t you? Why, he can't see straight. Doesn't know whether he’s coming or going. Been that way for days, likely. Trying to hide it hasn't helped any, either. His nerves are raw. The shelling's finishing him. Every crump’s so much torture. I saw that—down at the railway. Another day of this damned hammering, I'm afraid, will do the trick.”
The paymaster had compressed his lips to hum—
'Some little bug Some day is going To get you—-’
' 'Struth,“ the Q-Emma soberly commented. “In other words: The best of wagons break down in the end. There's a limit to everything.”
"Ever, to the Bull’s endurance,” I supplemented. “Even to that,” said the Q-Emma.
The paymaster dropped his humming long enough to remark: "Eut whoever would have thought it?”
ill Brady certainly looked as if he’d been built to stau i the gaff. Pie had a shaggy head of red, a short, thick neck, and shoulders like barn doors. His chest humped cut like a barrel. He stood six feet in his socks.
He stood so solidly on his feet that often, at mess, the remark had been passed that it would take an Austrian ‘how’—the kind used on Liège—to bowl him flat. His hands were tough customers, too—a shade harder, if that were possible, than the voice he was accustomed to whipcrack on those subservient to his authority, j ■ M
The Bull gloried in his strength. As a consequence, his attitude toward those less gifted in this respect was not as charitable as it might have been. Openly, and often, he scoffed at the sick—and sickness. To his way of thinking, sickness was so much shamming; the sick—so many malingerers.
Once, I overheard him go for a mule driver who’d asked for a parade chit to the M.O. The driver in question had trench foot so badly he’d had to cut the laces and the upper of his boot away to release the puffed and bleeding thing he presented for the Bull’s inspection. But the Bull had merely turned up his nose, snarling: “How do you think we’re going to keep up to strength if troops go sick every time they get a toe-ache like yours? Can’t do it—that’s all. Why, we’d be that shorthanded in a week’s time that all Fritz’d have to do would he to trot over and trot us back with him. You dig up some whaleoil and give your hoof a good soaking, and it’ll be jake-a-loo to-morrow. I know what’s good for you. And say—don’t do any parading to the M.O. on your own hook if you know what’s good for you.”
And another time—to illustrate further—he and I poked into a winter rest billet—an old barn of a place— to find half a dozen drivers huddled in their blankets, red-eyed, sniffing, teeth rattling like dice in a shaker.
“Trench fever,” one of their number volunteered. “Trench fever” the Bull blatted. “How do you get that way ? We’re doing a rest trip, here, aren’t we? Fifty kilos from the line, and thirty, at least, from the nearest trench. It can’t be trench fever—see. Get that crazy idea out of your head. You’re not going sick; and you know it. All together now like good fellows: ‘WE’RE NOT GOING SICK!’ ‘Traysbeans.’ Ten minutes to inspection, Shake a leg; you can just make it.”
Such was his attitude. Heartless? Perhaps! And yet it is hard to condemn a man who reasons as the Bull reasoned. We found it hard; and we knew him intimately—inside and out—if any did.
The big fellow had another side. He was all for winning the war. There were no halfway measures about him. There was no job so nasty he would not take a whack at it. He did not spare himself. The whole corps knew—it was shop talk, in fact—that he and his rations had never once failed the troops forward in three and a half years of it. He asked no favors; gave none, consequently. There was a war to be won; and with man power as essential to victory as it was preached, everlastingly, he couldn’t let men parade sick, he maintained, on such trivial counts as trench feet and trench fever. No, sir! He’d never been sick. Why should others get that way? If he could stand the grind—they could.
That was his line of reasoning—the way he talked, day after day, week in and week out, month upon month.
“And why shouldn’t he talk the way he does?” the troops would grouse— troops who saw only the hard side of him—troops who did not understand him as we had come to understand him. “Why shouldn’t he? He can darn well afford to—can’t he? The big hunk o’Gibraltar’s good for duration.”
How little the troops knew. For this dragging day in Caply the Bull had just about reached the end—the limit of his endurance. Good old wagon that he’d been, he was shaking to a fall. The grind of the past month—a nightmare period of chase-chase-chase after fleeing Fritz—had been no ordinary grind. Particularly for one who would drive himself even harder than he drove his subordinates.
The red head had grayed. The thick neck was limp. The wide shoulders had slumped. And the Liège legs were like candy sticks in a sunbathed showcase—puttylike and undependable, j, Breakdown? It was coming. Plain as the nose on your face. Another day would tell.
ALL afternoon, German guns, firing from the heights Lx. to the south of Mons, had belabored the valley village of Caply with a deliberateness that was diabolical.
Cottage after cottage—pretty places in their spickand-span red-and-whiteness—had been pounded to powder upon the heads of their civilian owners who huddled in dark cellars, white-faced, cringing at every whistle and slam. The church—substantial pile of gray stone—had been badly knocked about although its cross, after the manner of crosses, still stood—glinting defiantly in the coppery sunshine. Trees and poles were down cut off in their fragility before the whirring iron scythes like dried cornstalks. Everywhere along the stringstraight street great bites had been taken from the cobblestones.
It was midway the village—on the blown railway crossing—that I’d caught the Bull, if but momentarily, off his guard; there that I’d guessed him off-color. Transport had been hauling unconcernedly across this ground when the bombardment had opened in all its unprovoked suddenness and intensity. The very first salvo had caught the Bull’s leading limbers flush.
With the lifting of the smoke I pulled myself out of the gutter into which I’d rolled, and looked about to see what I could do. The Bull had freed his foot from the stirrup of his dead horse and was staring hard at the roadway. rirHinsvilv ns T realized. he would have stamped up and
down, cursing, shaking his bulky fists at the pin-point flashes of gold along the distant heights, and bellowing might and main for aid that he might clear up the mess that had been made of his little column. But, there he was—like a blind man with a tag, pitifully hesitant as to the next step.
Crawling closer, I made out amongst the clutter of kindling and harness and horseflesh the broken figure of a young woman in black—a mere slip of a thing who, I hazily recalled, had been pushing a perambulator abreast our creaking wagons when the four shrieking five-nines from out of the November haze had whammed in upon us. Pleasant sight? No! And I recoiled from it unconsciously. But what staggered me most was the Bull’s strange behavior. His eyes had gone a dull color. Funny sounds—puppy-like whimpers—were coming from his throat.
“Kill a girl, will you—you devils? Baby, too?”
“Come on,” I made bold to exhort, seizing his elbow. “We can’t do anything here. They’re past help. Let’s dig.”
There was a thump-thump in the distance, and two more freight cars clattered overhead and far behind us.
I saw the Bull’s face pale. I saw the skin of one big hand flex until the knuckles stood out like white marbles. I saw a drop of sweat— -glisteningly cold—creep from under the padband of his tin hat and furrow its way down a dirty, unshaven cheek.
“Get a grip on yourself,” I counselled, noting that a number of drivers, reassembling after the smash, were eyeing their skipper, speculatively. “Pull yourself together. Don’t let the troops see you this way. You know how they’d laugh. They mustn’t get wise you’re sick.”
It was a random guess on my part, but it brought him around with a dispatch that was electrifying.
“You go to blazes with your wise cracks,” he flung at me, pouring out his invective with, seemingly, all the old fire. “Sick? Did you ever hear of me being sick? What do you take me for—a ninny?”
Blue-lipped, swaying, he jerked himself free of my grasp, and hustled his men into cleaning up the spill— getting the road open for any traffic that might come sailing along, up or back country.
“Ninny or not,” I mused, watching him intently,
“you’re one blamed sick man. And your old camouflage doesn’t fool me a bit.”
Evening had trucked in. A Boche two-seater which had been droning over the lower part of the village, dipped, dived, rattled a burst of em-ma-gee off the pavé, zoomed up into the silences, and winged off. Then, from Wameries way—behind us—had sounded the double-barrelled plonk of some sixty pounders—the first of supporting artillery to plow and slough their way through blown road intersections and fields, axle-deep in mire, to the infantry’s backing. They’d been missed: oh, how they’d been missed. But once they’d got going they had plonked untiringly, introducing their deep-throated speech to the hitherto one-sided artillery argument— searching with high velocities the ravines and shrubbery of the Mons heights from which the iron lash had been wielded on crouching Caply.
And, barring an odd crump or two, the Boche had shut up tighter than a trap. Sneaking from cover, I had beaten it back village, and had run across the Q-Emma and the paymaster, members of our mess, in the burgomaster’s doorway—up for air from the cave into which they’d piled unceremoniously when the strofe had started. And, presently, the Bull, shaken and wobbly, had barged into our midst, and with few words (as already recorded; had taken himself off—out of our sight—that we might not discern what he, in his groggy state, believed he was safely guarding from us.
VJL 7ELL,” said the Q-Emma, after a silence that * * seemed years-long, “we can’t squat here forever. What’re we going to do?”
“We?” the Paymaster ejaculated surprise. “Just where do we come in? Don’t see that we can do anything. He’ll go to hospital---”
“He won’t go to hospital,” I corrected. “Catch him going sick! Do you suppose his pride would let him?”
“Darned rot,” muttered the paymaster.
“In some cases—maybe,” I said. “But with the Bull it’s more than rot. It’s pretty near God with him. Talk about it going before a fall? It won’t with him. No, sir! If he conks out—and you can’t tell, mind—pride will be the last thing he’ll let go. I’d bet on it. He’ll be hanging on to it long after they’ve crossed his arms and sewn him in his blanket.”
“Huh!” grunted the paymaster.
The Q-Emma had lit a cigarette and was puffing pensively on it—staring through the opened door into the street where the purple shades of evening were fast deepening to black.
“And because of it,” I went on, “he’s up top, here, alone and suffering. Doesn’t seem right, does it? And yet I believe he’d actually give up the ghost before he’d let the troops know, by word or sign, that that beastly ‘bug’ you’re eternally singing about, Pay, had been too much for him—had got him after all.”
“Huh!” said the paymaster.
“Oh, for lord’s sake,” cried the Q-Emma, flicking his fag, in a little spout of sparks, clean the length of the room, “can’t you do something else besides grunt?”
The paymaster scraped to his feet, clicking: “Why don’t you do something—suggest something—if you’re so good?”
“Hanged if I won’t,” snapped the Q-Emma. “And we’ll see if you’ve got the nerve to back me up.”
Things were getting a bit warm—rather nasty. “No need to fly off the handle,” I put in. “It won’t get us anywhere.”
The paymaster grunted again.
The Q-Emma spat vehemently, and declared: “Far as I can see, the situation’s this: We’ve two choices. We either let the Bull be—or we don’t. Let him suffer—or knife that pride of his as cold-bloodedly as the Doc gouges out shrapnel. It’s one thing or the other. We either blind our eyes to the shape he’s in—or we send him down sick.”
“We?” the paymaster asked dubiously.
“Yes, we,” rasped the Q-Emma. “If he won’t go, himself, we’ll make him go. I propose that, in the morning, we take the law in our own hands, hop his collar, and parade him before the Doc. Oh, there’ll be lots of fireworks, and we’ll likely get mussed up good and plenty but the three of us, together, should be able to handle him.”
“Can’t say I like the idea,” the paymaster interposed.
“I didn’t expect you would,” sneered the Q-Emma.
Again I stepped in. “Cut it, you two,” I admonished. “You’ve outgrown your rompers. Be men.”
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Continued from page 13
The little paymaster was tugging at his collar, fairly spluttering indignation. “Think I’m worrying about a bat on the jaw?” he choked. “Well, I’m not. I can take a licking as well as the rest of you. But just let me tell you that this plan—if put over—is going to cost us a lot more than a mere licking. It’s going to cost us the Bull’s friendship. You can’t get away from it. And his friendship means a helluva lot to me, if it doesn’t to you birds.”
“Stave it,” grated the Q-Emma, but I saw that ‘pay’s’ argument had struck him as forcibly as it had struck me. Of course, the Bull wouldn’t forgive. Why, we’d be creating for him the very situation he was trying so hard to sidestep; exposing his hand. Forgive? Catch him!
“Stave it,” the Q-Emma reiterated weakly. “Don’t get moony. This is no time for sentiment. For feeling sorry. For ourselves—I mean. You bet he’ll resent our interference. But we can’t let him suffer—let him die—and do nothing —can we? It isn’t human—standing by this way. Hospital’s the only course. There’s no other way out. Nothing else will fix him up unless—unless some--”
“Miracle,” I supplied.
“Miracle’s the word,” he said sadly. “But the day of miracles is past, Dave.”
“I guess so,” I said.
Outside there was a sudden hair-raising screech with a resounding blam at the tail of it.
“Snappy,” urged the Q-Emma. “The cussed ‘hate’ will be on us again before we know it. Is it to be the bum’s rush for the Bull—or not? Do we—or don’t we? Talk quick.”
“I’m on,” I mumbled; thrusting out my hand.
“Must it be hospital—then?” said the paymaster.
“Hospital,” snapped the Q-Emma. “To blazes with his pride. We’ll grab "him in the morning.”
“All right,” said the paymaster, dully. “But—but it’s a rotten way to repay him for all he’s done for us.”
“Aw, shut up,” the Q-Emma cried. “Will you ever stop belly-aching? I don’t like it any better than you do.”
I DID not go below when the others did. Some impulse prodded me roofward. “Don’t be an ass, Dave,” The Q-Emma chided, as he headed for the underground. “You can’t do any good, just now. And even if you could you wouldn’t get any thanks for it.”
Nevertheless, I climbed the stairs.
The Bull hadn’t got to his little bed. He hadn’t quite reached it. I found him sprawled in a heap by its foot—limp as a dishcloth. It took me several minutes to swing his bulk on to the white coverlets. The room was quite dark, and I had to work under difficulties, but I managed to remove his respirator, loosen his collar, and get his heavy field boots off.
I knew better than to scratch a match. Things were quiet, but the windows were curtainless, and any kind of a glimmer, I feared, might bring some sniping whizzbang from the distant heights. So I poked about the gloomy top storey, out of one room into the next, until I located, as I’d hoped, a basin and water. In it I soaked some towelling and began to bathe the Bull’s forehead.
Not a sound came from the big fellow’s lips. His inertia was so alarming that I began to suspect we’d erred in deferring action until morning. I was suddenly afraid of what daylight would bring. Far better if the Doc could be raised at once. But that was out of all reason. For I knew, as the Q-Emma had known, that the Doc was up a mile or so in advance of the town where, all day long, machine guns had clacked incessantly and men had been at one another’s throats. And I knew of no other aid post nearby.
No! Morning would have to do.
So I sponged his head, his face, his neck and chest. He seemed all on fire with fever—burning up. I pulled back his tunic and shirt sleeves and sopped his arms. Kept it up until my efforts became mechanical, almost. I felt my head sag. Sleep was tugging persistently at my eyelids. I shook myself, for I had a long vigil ahead of me, and I just had to remain awake----
I awoke with a start. How long I had been dozing on the side of the bed I could not say. I awoke to find the room flooded with moonlight. I awoke to find the Bull sitting straight up in bed like some jack-in-a-box. He was talking to himself.
“Ssh,” I said, believing that delirium had run wild with him.
“Ssh, yourself,” came the prompt retort. “Listen—you!” And he bent forward, clutching my wrist in a grip that hurt.
“Lie down,” I coaxed.
“Listen,” he reiterated, and I was conscious of a mounting thrill in his appeal. “By God, she’s over.”
“What is?” I asked curtly.
“The bloody war. She’s over.”
A great wave of pity enveloped me. “Over?” I muttered grimly. “Yes! Over for you.”
I got a hold on his shoulders and forced him flat on his back. For a while he crooned away to himself, crooned as I’ve heard a baby croon on being given its bottle, the one thing capable, at the moment, of bringing peace. Then, with a long sigh, he turned on his side. His face was still hot as I found on putting my hand to it. But during the few seconds it lay against his stubbled cheek I sensed some transformation—some change in him. Something seemed slipping—slipping away from him—slipping swiftly as a moth slips from the confining cocoon. I can’t begin to explain it. But it was there. Some subtle change. Indefinable—and
yet there. The very atmosphere, itself, seemed surcharged with it.
I slumped down in a nearby chair and listened. All about hung the quiet of the tomb. Not even the snarl of a Vickers, Mons way, where the outpost lines were feeling for each other, disturbed the hush. There was no purr of ’plane. No dull thud of distant, dropping bomb. The guns were strangely silent.
From some neighboring backyard a rooster crowed.
I wriggled uncomfortably—couldn’t help myself. Was my nerve—my reasoning—going too? Mad suggestion—that of the Bull’s. Wars didn’t end so abruptly at least, not this one. Still, there had been some extravagant talk—hadn’t there?— of German plenipotentiaries and whatnot en route to the allied lines. Impossible talk, though. It didn’t fit in with the general scheme of things. It absolutely didn’t.
For I had seen what war could do to Caply in a single afternoon. I had seen the wounded straggling back from the scrapping forward. I knew that a fresh brigade was to hop off at dawn. I knew what that would mean; more casualties— the same gunfire—the same rattle of rifles—the same drone of engines overhead—the same hellish business of fighting.
“No, no, no,” I cried. “You’re wrong. Bull. You’re all wrong.” My weary head dropped upon my chest.
^ I sprang up, blinking in the stabbing light of day. Something was wrong; that was it. Something had whizzed through the window pane, and across the room, to spank against the wall. It was a good-sized rock that somebody had thrown.
I jumped to the shattered casement.
Looking down on the street, I beheld a bare-headed battalion runner, frothing at the mouth, rocking excitedly on his heels. On spotting me he let fly, jerkily:
“Armitis. Whassamatter with you I guys? Been poundin’ the door 0’ this dump for five minutes. Armitis—’leven ’clock. S’elp me, Gawd. It’s the end.”
The bedsprings back of me groaned. I jerked about; found the Bull eyeing me dispassionately.
“Hear that, boy?” I gurgled, for the immensity of the situation was just taking hold. “She’s caput—fini. The war’s over.”
The Bull smiled indulgently. “Didn’t I tell you?” he said.
“Some fool guess yours was,” I retorted, for his bluff was too galling to let pass uncalled. “When a fellow’s sick he’s apt to say—to predict most anything.”
“Sick!” blatted the Bull, and it came from him with all the old rawhide slap. “Who said I was sick? Did I? Ever? Do I look sick?”
For the life of me I couldn’t have answered “Yes!” His eyes were a bit redrimmed, but his cheeks had regained their normal color, and his breath was coming evenly. Still, I told myself, I’d stick to my guns—to my argument.
“Don’t kid me,” I flung out chestily— and that was as far as my resolve took me. For the sight of him eyeing his bootless feet had stayed my tongue with a promptness no other deterrent could have effected. I saw his hand explore his open shirt front. Next thing, his hard eyes had fastened on the basin and towelling at the foot of the bed.
“Jumping Judas,” he flared like a skyrocket. “Who’s been kidding mhl Got me half-naked? Been playing nursie with me? You, again, Dave? Well, you’re through as a funny man. You’ve been asking for it. A damned good spanking will teach you-”
He rose to his feet—a formidable six in his socks. The hard hands reached my direction. But I was ahead of them, pelting downstairs like a jumped rabbit.
At the bottom I bumped fair and square into the Q-Emma and the paymaster. Their chins were stuck out determinedly, and their eyes flashed the spirit of chaps prepared to make the best of a bad business—and hang the consequences.
“Just the same,” I heard the paymaster fuss, “it’s a high-handed game—this.”
“Come on,” the Q-Emma barked. “Let’s get it over with. The ‘footer, the sweeter.’ ”
Grinning broadly, I barred their way.
“Needn’t hurry,” I told them. “The game’s called. We’ll stay where we are.”
The Q-Emma flashed me a dirty look. “Stay here—nothing,” said he. “I’m going through with it. Got cold feet, eh, Dave?”
“No,” I chuckled; “But the big boy has. He slept with his boots off last night, and he’s in a beastly humor, right now. Hospital? He’s not going to hospital— any hospital, for that matter. Nor am I, if I can help it. Let’s breeze outside for a spell.”
The Q-Emma let out a puzzled snort—• and could you blame him?
“What’s got into you?” he demanded. “What’ve you been drinking? You’re talking in riddles. What happened anyhow?”
“Damned if I know what happened,” I said sanely. “It’s a riddle to me.”
A mighty roar floated down to us from above—
“Who the devil took that respirator of mine?”
“Let’s go,” I entreated.
“Under the circumstances,” smiled the Q-Emma whose keen ears had wiggled understanding, “I should consider it a wise move. But, tell me, Dave” and he linked arms with me—“what did you do for him? How did you manage it? He’s himself, again—that’s plain. That roar! I No death-door dialogue, if you ask me.
How did you fix him?”
I The little paymaster was clapping his
hands together—bubbling over, like a kid with a new toy.
“Fix him? Better?” he jabbered. “You don’t mean to tell me he’s better? And now we shan’t have to—Whoops, my dear! If that isn’t the best news in years.” He did a little jig on the stone flooring, slapped the Q-Emma on the back, then turned to me venting his appreciation. “Good old Dave! Johnny-on-the-spot as usual. Let’s have it. How did you work it? Explain yo’self.”
“I didn’t work it,” I said quietly. “What little I did doesn’t count. And I can’t begin to explain, either.”
Over the way, a black-haired girl— some estaminet queen, likely—poked her head from a window and shrilled—
“Vivent les Anglais—
Vivent les Canadiens—”
Caply civvies, I saw, were stirring after the storm; to all appearances, they had had the good word, too. Farther down the street a piano commenced to tum-tum, as well as shrapnel-punctured lungs would permit, some rollicking tune.
“Jimminy,” said the paymaster, unconsciously beating time with his heel. “That’s a real rag. What’s it mean?”
“That means,” I said, “the Armistice. And damned good news by the way, too,”
“NO?” my two friends gasped as one, their jaws hanging, their eyes big as saucers.
“Absolutely,” I replied, adding, as the clog-clog of the Bull’s hobnailed boots sounded upstairs, “and about time we were celebrating—don’t you think?”
OVER the cognac a rat-eyed, dirtyaproned lump of a Beige enthusiastically, and, for a wonder, gratuitously, poured out for us, the paymaster observed: “Armistice? Great Scot! Who ever would have thought it?”
“Few,” I said. “The Bull, perhaps. But he’s the only one here.” Wherewith I told them of my night watch—of the big fellow’s behavior and his astounding
assertion—bit by bit, what I was able to tell them.
“Hunch,” sniffed the paymaster. “That’s all he had—a hunch.”
“And yet,” declared the Q-Emma, dreamily calculative, “it may have been enough. May have worked his cure. Sounds strange, silly, I know, but stranger things have happened. No more shelling. Think of it. No more grind. No more hellery. Gone. Wiped out. Done. Think of it. Some blessed relief, you’ve got to admit ”
Out on the street flags had begun to flutter. A band, sprung up like magic from somewhere, was loudly playing Katy, and transport troops were dancing with the village m'selles, and over by a watering-trough the burgomaster, in full regalia, looking like a new moon and fairly bursting with importance, was endeavoring to get off his chest some impassioned appeal to which no one would listen.
It was just the start. There would be a hot time in the old town that night.
The Q-Emma drained his thin glass, leaned back contentedly in his chair, and continued: “You can see for yourselves what this peace—this Armistice thing is doing.” And he nodded towards the swirl of merry-makers. “It will cure a lot of fagged souls, the world over, before the day is out—and don’t you forget it. So” —he rapped sharply on the table top for another round of drinks—“why shouldn’t it have cured the Bull?”
“Thashat I say,” affirmed the paymaster who may have taken a drop or two too much. “Why—why nosh?”
ES! Why not?
Some nine years have passed since that November morning—but I haven’t forgotten. And the oftener I look back to the Armistice—especially as it came to us in that Belgian town—the more certain I am that the Q-Emma’s guess hit the bull’s eye.
Some day the world will give the Armistice the place to which it is entitled.
Its place among the miracles.